August 16, 2002
A first-of-its-kind partnership with Stonestown Galleria is giving San Francisco State University merchandising students hands-on experience in the retail world by decorating storefront windows.
Seven students in the Consumer and Family Studies/Dietetics Department have spent the summer setting up displays in vacant storefront windows at the nearby shopping center. In exchange for their volunteer time, students work closely with merchants on what products should be displayed and what type of message the store manager hopes to convey to shoppers.
The project came together in the spring after Stonestown Galleria sponsored the Student Fashion Association's "Runway 2002" annual fashion show. Connie Ulasewicz, a visual merchandising lecturer, then worked with Christina Thompson and Nicole Schmitt in Stonestown's marketing department to find creative ways to give students valuable experience while also helping out merchants.
"Working with the merchants at Stonestown has opened up an entire new world for our San Francisco State students," said Ulasewicz.
Dozens of students -- ready to put their creativity to the test -- stepped forward when asked if they wanted to work on the project. At the same time, dozens of merchants agreed to work with the students on whatever was needed. The display spaces -- generally a fair distance from the actual stores -- are another form of advertising designed to drive customers to the shops and increase sales.
The students spend about eight hours on each window design between coming up with the idea, gathering the merchandise and building the display. At the bottom of each window is a sign that gives credit to the San Francisco State University student who designed the space.
This summer students worked on storefront windows for Talbots, Bath & Body Works, Eddie Bauer, Wet Seal, the Bombay Co., Illuminations and the Picture People. The displays, typically changed every two weeks, can be found in different locations of the shopping center's first and second floors. The project will continue through the coming academic year as long as there are vacant windows available.
"Through this project I've been able to show my skills to shoppers at the mall by using real merchandise," said student Chie Harvey, who designed the display for Illuminations candle store. "I gained confidence after I saw other people looking at my window."
Added student Danae Rubenstein, who worked on the window for Eddie Bauer: "My intention in doing the window was to understand the marketing technique that best lends itself to a store's target audience. I wanted to have more insight as to how exactly a store conveys a certain lifestyle."
The other merchandising students who worked on the displays are David Zetzer (display is pictured above right), Jenny Cushman, Margaret Kelly, Alicia Gallardo and Regina Leung.
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